Where Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale used AD&D 2nd edition, and Icewind Dale 2 and Neverwinter used 3rd edition, the upcoming Sword Coasts Legends is based on Dungeon & Dragons' latest 5th edition ruleset. What does that mean for (c)RPG players planning a return to the Forgotten Realms?
Dan Tudge, president of Sword Coast Legends developer N-Space, explains. "I played the first AD&D, the first edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons," Tudge tells PC Gamer's Dan Griliopoulos. "For me I think fifth is the first time that they've really captured that original set of rules. Ease of use is the wrong word, because it is very, very deep, but it is accessible and it swings the focus back to adventuring rather than being all about the rules. It's about having fun and having a great adventure, which is why I got into D&D."
While there are specific things that need changing for Sword Coast Legends, Tudge thinks the new ruleset lends itself well to adaptation. "There's things that just don't translate from a six second round on the table top to a real time practical RPG, he says. "We've had to make some adaptations, but I think that's one thing that's really great about the fifth edition rules. They are almost more about the spirit of D&D, and the spirit of playing a great adventure with your friends. So it's actually been a very good rule set to adapt."
According to Tudge, the benefit of fifth edition is that players have more to do in combat. "It's been balanced in a way where you do a lot more hitting ... The fights don't end any quicker or any worse, but it's balanced in such a way that everybody still gets to have a lot more fun, because they're hitting more and wizards and casters are doing a lot more hitting. They're not limited to one or two things per encounter. And I think that's made it way more enjoyable for groups to play."
In addition, Tudge says, racial specialisations now offer more variety. "You get some really interesting variations of other classes now based on race," he says. "That, to me, is pretty cool. So now you can also have a cleric that can do some range damage and keep out of the fight and doesn't have to go in and tank. I think there's a lot more freedom now to really create the kind of character you want and it's very well-balanced within each other."
Sword Coast Legends will offer a full single-player campaign, as well as a Dungeon Master mode that will let players create dungeons on the fly, or pre-prepare full campaigns. For more from this interview, check out the next issue of PC Gamer, out 12 March in the UK.